The provincial Transit Investment Panel has published the second of three discussion papers in advance of public meetings slated to start next week. The paper is entitled “The Transit We Need” and it addresses filtering criteria by which possible transit projects should be judged.
This paper is odd on a few counts. First off, it covers similar territory to the first “Hard Truths” paper by talking about meaningful criteria for inclusion of projects in competition for funding. Second, it does not include specific proposals for alternatives to The Big Move, even though such a proposal was mooted by the panel’s Vice Chair Paul Bedford at a recent public presentation at UofT and obliquely mentioned in a Globe and Mail commentary (only available online).
The idea of a regional relief line that would connect several of the existing and proposed Metrolinx projects in a single line linking municipalities from Mississauga to Markham via downtown Toronto is worthy of exploration. Indeed, Metrolinx is in the midst of studying regional relief strategies right now. This would not constitute a re-mapping of the Big Move, but rather a strategic modification to better accommodate current and anticipated growth.
There is a fascination recently with advocacy for anything that might remove the need to build the Downtown Relief Line (or Don Mills Subway, or whatever we might call it), and the “Big U”, as Bedford calls it, is politically attractive because it goes out into the 905. There is even a possibility at some distant future date that counter-peak flow to job centres in the 905 would add to the value of such a line provided that there is any local transit service to act as a distributor.
This does not eliminate the need for more local capacity into the core area especially if fare structures leave 905 residents clamouring for a subway to give them a cheap, frequent ride into downtown and riders from the 416 be damned.
The panel proposes a number of filters by which new lines would be evaluated, but gives no indication of the relative priority of these filters, or any relationship between the capital (and future operating) cost of a line versus the effect it might have (or not have) under these criteria. This is rather like someone saying that we will cut taxes through “elimination of waste” without bothering to define the term or explaining how to find it.
The panel claims that its paper deals with “deciding what to build” and “ensuring accountability for these investments”. This is not necessarily the same as “the transit we need”, and depends a great deal on how one defines “need”. This is particularly poignant in the ongoing battle between “regional” and “local” needs where a would-be rider in Mississauga is somehow more important than one in Don Mills, at least in priorities for improved transit.
As for accountability, that would apply to a hot dog stand as much as to a rapid transit network, and at best the relationship to our “need” is that money misspent is not available for what is really needed.
The panel notes that circumstances have changed since The Big Move was proposed, notably in the financial environment where the streets are now paved, if at all, not with gold, but with tin. Moreover:
New research has emerged on the critical importance of linking public transit to employment and on the extent to which job growth is occurring in areas not served by The Big Move’s proposed projects.
This touches on two points. First, The Big Move was a grab-bag of plans from the GTA municipalities and Queen’s Park, and it represented more a consensus of dreams than a rigourous analysis of how the network could and should behave. Related to this was the strongly core-oriented nature of major routes that would improve capacity to downtown Toronto, but much less for regional travel. Regional planning is still strongly based on the park-and-ride model, one which falls apart as garage space becomes expensive to provide and one which is totally unsuited to trips that don’t originate with car-owning homes (not to mention travel to locations badly served by local transit, unlike Union Station).
A further problem was that Queen’s Park could not stomach a pricetag above $50-billion, or $2b/year over 25 years. Projects fell off of the table to keep the number within that limitation, and we have no idea of what was left out, or how it might fit with an updated network proposal today.
Second, there is an emphasis on employment centres over residential density. Definitely, such centres provide compact destinations to which travellers might ride, but they have to come from somewhere. The Toronto subway is packed with riders who are, mainly, going to dense employment and academic areas, but is fed by a network of (mainly) bus routes that collect riders from residential areas beyond the subway’s reach.
A fundamental flaw in much thought about high capacity routes in Toronto is that they must be lined with density. No. They must be well served by routes that connect the high density to the rapid transit lines. Conversely, just because an area may be lower density today does not mean that there is no transit demand flowing through that neighbourhood even if little is generated locally. If GO Transit were held to the same standards we profess to apply to subway lines, none of that network would exist because the density at the stations, by and large, would not support the service.
People live all over the region, and we cannot wish away their distribution by saying they are in the wrong place, or that we won’t give them rapid transit until they all huddle together near a “mobility hub”. The challenge is to concentrate the demand through a combination of feeders, pedestrian/cycling access from nearby residential areas, and, yes, parking as a last resort.
The Panel is convinced that a plan to pay for new transit cannot be separated from how we select the projects themselves. In particular, given the current financial pressures on the provincial government, prudence dictates that recommendations for new dedicated funding will result in a network of high performing rapid transit lines.
That sounds good on paper, although decades of experience suggests that buying votes may take precedence. I agree that projects need to be justified and prioritized, but this does not get past the question of whether political need will take priority over network benefits.
Transit investments must help ease congestion.
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. This shibboleth is central to so much of what Metrolinx has been doing, and even Metrolinx acknowledges that, at best, full buildout of The Big Move will only keep “congestion” from getting any worse. The famous “32 minutes” we hear so much about is not a saving relative to today’s travel, but relative to what tomorrow could be like if we do nothing. Moreover, the saving will be uneven across the network. Some trips will benefit immensely from a faster and more convenient journey while others see little benefit at all.
Relative to today, given the painfully slow progress on building (as opposed to announcing) projects, we will be lucky to see much of that 32 minutes. The target date for completing The Big Move keeps drifting off into the future, but the growth in population, jobs and traffic does not.
Easing congestion will only occur with major shifts in travel either completely off of the road network, or through increased total capacity of that network through mechanisms such as conversion of space from auto to transit use, a process that may net out to more capacity, but no less congestion for auto travellers.
This raises the question of “whose congestion do we measure”? The motorist stuck on the DVP, the subway rider who cannot board their train or the bus riders who cannot reach their rapid transit line thanks to inadequate and unreliable feeder services?
If the GTA population were fairly static, we could expect to open a new line, whatever it may be, and see an immediate effect in parallel road traffic. Unfortunately, in the decade it will take to build any major route like the Scarborough Subway or the Crosstown LRT, the region’s population will grow by 1 million and the original reference point for “congestion” will be a distant memory.
There is little sign that spending will be advanced in an attempt to get ahead of the growth curve, and we will be lucky just to stay level with it. Past experience is not encouraging.
If “congestion” is narrowly defined as problems with the road network, this will disenfranchise transit users everywhere who must pack on to increasingly crowded vehicles to travel even though they are the majority of trips to the central business district.
As a side note, the panel’s criteria are completely silent on goods movement, an issue often raised at Metrolinx meetings. This is definitely a road capacity issue, but the locations of congestion that affect trucking are very different from the commuting corridors where major transit investments have been proposed.
Transit investments must add up to a connected region-wide network.
This is a great motherhood statement, but the section is highjacked with advocacy for the “regional relief line” or “big U”. There are many areas both in the 905 and in the 416 that are nowhere near the “big U” and would benefit little from it. If we are serious about a network, we need to talk about things on that basis, not say “we need a network” and then focus on one line. That’s rather like saying “build a subway on Yonge Street and all your problems are solved”.
Transit networks need more than rapid transit to be effective. Connections with local transit should be seamless. Transit operators in the GTHA must work together to deliver coordinated schedules, consistent traveller information, and integrated fare systems.
I beg your pardon? Local transit? What a novel idea! This is far less a question of local operators working together than it is one of funding for transit operations. What we see everywhere is pressure for cutbacks in public spending, and even the “local component” of the Metrolinx Investment Strategy is aimed more at capital than operating needs.
Also missing from this statement, although it shows up later and was a central point in “Hard Truths”, is the fact that “rapid transit” is not just subways or frequent GO trains. A widely spaced network of high capacity services leaves a lot of blank space on the map, space that should be served by a mix of operations from local bus routes right up to LRT lines on arterial medians.
Active transportation options should be included in the plan. Walking and cycling can be the most cost-effective travel options, with low infrastructure costs and minimal operating costs.
This is an aspect of local access, but we will not have everyone in walking or cycling distance with a coarse network of a few lines. This requires better local transit and lower-scale “rapid transit” infrastructure.
Transit projects must align with current and future employment locations.
As I have already said, the employment (and academic) centres are only one end of the trip. If riders cannot get from their homes to the rapid transit network, then it will not serve all of its potential market.
Ridership within walking distance of transit is a major contributor to successful transit.
I agree that this is a major contributor, although the recent Scarborough Subway decision flouts this on a grand scale. Good feeder services are also important and residential density does not have to be at or next door to a subway station. Just look at Kennedy or Warden Stations. More density at these stations would be nice, but it is not essential to their success.
Another important issue here is that the behaviour of transit and employment is strongly coloured in Toronto by the nature of downtown Toronto. Toronto is “half a city” as one wry commentator (in Edmonton) observed many years ago. The travel patterns are concentrated on the north side of Lake Ontario, and even then the “pie” isn’t evenly split between east and west. An employment centre in, say, Mississauga is not served by a “funnel” of transit lines bringing riders from the north, east and south to one point, but by trips originating from all directions. Similarly, residential populations along, say, Sheppard Avenue are not bound only for King & Bay, but also for Mississauga and Markham.
It is much more difficult to concentrate travellers to the smaller suburban nodes where a dispersed origin-destination pattern already exists than it is to bring more people into downtown Toronto. To put it another way, the network has to work harder to achieve a good modal split because it must draw riders from a wider territory where there is little established transit infrastructure.
“Future employment locations” are tricky. We can draw development nodes on a map, but unless we are prepared to force development to actually occur there (and not elsewhere), this is an abstract exercise that will almost certainly fail. Toronto’s own experience over past decades shows the folly of presuming we can direct growth exactly and only where we want it.
… jobs that have good transit access have a much lower percentage of people who drive to work. For instance, only 24% of people who work in Toronto’s financial core take their cars.
By 2031, the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe estimates that there will be 850,000 new workers in the GTHA. Of these, half will be working in offices. During peak hours, the ratio of workers to non-workers among transit riders is four to one. The research makes it clear that the role of office development in generating ridership is pivotal. The key factors determining the location of these jobs will be location of transit, planning permissions, development-ready sites, and economic conditions which are competitive.
To date, we have not been entirely successful at integrating land use, economics, and transportation planning.
That last line is a masterful understatement.
What we do know is that development concentration in Toronto is shifting back to the core, and this is part of a world-wide pattern driven by the cost and time constraints of commuting to dispersed centres. We must be careful not to justify transit spending to “future employment centres” that will still be growing grass three decades from now.
Transit projects decisions should be coordinated with the location of community and public institutions.
This is a rather interesting statement coming as it does immediately after the heading
The Transit We Need Serves Homes and Destinations
These are not the same things. “Community … institutions” are not “homes”. By all means, serve residences, but recognize that many of them are in areas that individually will never be dense enough to support major rapid transit investment. They are, however, essential as part of the catchment area that will connect with rapid transit via the feeder network.
As for “community and public institutions”, there is a corollary requirement that such facilities be located where they can be easily served by transit, not buried off of main streets where access may be impossible. Planning for public institutions to be where people can easily reach them is as important as for private developments.
Locating these important uses in car-dependent areas makes absolutely no sense. They must be connected to public transit.
Poor access includes configurations where a major destination sits in an office park or mall surrounded by acres of parking with a bus stop that is just barely visible through the haze a long, unprotected walk from the “community institution”. This begs the question of whether planning should force major developments to reverse their traditional layout with a core of offices and shops surrounded by parking to one with more buildings on the perimeter and the parking, if parking there must be, on the interior. If we continue to build major centres based on auto access, then transit accessibility will be stymied.
The type of transit must be appropriate for the situation, accounting for current and
future ridership, cost, environment, and fiscal impacts.
This is a repetition from the “Hard Truths”. The transit technology and infrastructure must fit the location and demand. We cannot and should not build subways everywhere.
Contrary to the myth that subways are the only good form of rapid transit, the truth is that an effective and sustainable public transit network depends on matching the technology to the circumstances.
A great sentiment, but one that will meet with substantial political opposition in some quarters. Between vanity projects and vote buying, not to mention the panic any proposal to take road space away from cars brings in motorists, subways have a big edge with commuter rail a distant second mainly because of the limited supply of corridors.
If we are to be serious about LRT and BRT, then Metrolinx and the politicians who will ultimately approve these projects must be prepared to argue for the overall benefit in cost effectiveness, flexibility, speed of construction and appropriateness of surface transit modes. This is difficult when there are no big success stories in the GTHA as a poster child for alternatives to subways.
Project investments can build confidence in the full plan by phasing implementation.
Queen’s Park and Metrolinx have undermined their credibility by linking the phasing of projects in the “First Wave” of The Big Move to provincial financing and cash flow constraints. Terrified of borrowing and the increase of provincial debt, the government has pushed projects that could be open or close to it off to the indefinite future. The phasing of projects like the Crosstown and, in future plans, GO electrification guarantees that nobody will actually benefit from the investment and disruption for years.
The decision to build the Crosstown as one “big bang” project should be grounds for dismissal of whoever cooked up that scheme. It is probably too late to change things now, but we will suffer a long time and spend billions before the first rider gets on a train from Mount Dennis to Kennedy.
Phased improvements should be essential parts of any transit proposal.
Investments must provide tangible benefits and improvements in the short-term.
This criterion is related to the phasing proposal above. People want to see better transit service, faster travel times, and, where it is actually possible, less congestion, and they want to see it now.
The fastest way this will happen will be through improved local transit service, but this is an area where Queen’s Park and Metrolinx fear to tread because it opens the Pandora’s box of local operating subsidies and active “encouragement” for municipalities to devote more resources to their transit systems.
A related problem is fare levels especially when trips cross boundaries or interface with GO Transit. GO proudly trumpets its high cost recovery while discouraging use of its network especially in the 416 with discriminatory high fares for short journeys and no transfer privileges to/from the TTC. A high cost recovery does not mean that the network is doing the job it could, especially if spending more on fare and service integration could improve the overall network.
The Transit We Need has Strong Accountability and Transparency
This section of the panel’s report concentrates on “following the money” so that a taxpayer can, figuratively, put a dimes in the meter at Broadview and Danforth and see them pop out blocks away in real benefits without nickles disappearing along the way to bad spending decisions.
However, there is the matter of “transparency”. This is not just a case of tracking the money, but of having open, honest discussions about plans, something Metrolinx has been notoriously bad at since its inception. Part of this flows from its status as a provincial agency where any announcements are stage managed as photo ops for the Premier and Minister, and musing about possible new networks simply is not done in public.
If people are going to believe in any new governance system, they must see that its work is open to view, that decisions arise from well-understood and supported planning, not from the need to win elections. No single transit project will be popular across the GTHA, but voters everywhere need to feel that decisions are not being skewed to serve short-term interests, or worse, to undo decisions that appeared to have been settled years before.
There is little new in this paper, and in particular, no explanation of how the various filtering mechanisms might interact or affect the current Big Move network.
Buried in a footnote is a reference that this scheme is not intended to replace the existing Metrolinx Benefits Case Analyses which, as I have written elsewhere, have serious flaws in methodology, notably their project focus rather than network level of comparative analysis.
The real purpose for which the panel was created was the examination of financing schemes for The Big Move. This will come in the third paper, with luck before the public meetings start next week. Even here, we are missing a fundamental piece of information: how much money are we trying to raise overall and how should this be staged in time? It is no secret that The Big Move will cost more than the originally claimed $50-billion, if only through inflation, not to mention operating and maintenance costs and the local component of transit operations.
Nowhere is there any hint that the panel is examining not just the “how” but the “how much” of this problem.
I’m not sure if the ‘Transit Panel’ meant to put these ‘needs’ in order of importance or they were ‘organized at random’ (oxymoronix pun intended) … but clearly placing “congestion first” suggests that Transit Panel is unfamiliar with the actualities of congestion in the GTA … or that they are getting their information and marching orders from the same source.
I’m glad that the panel will be having public consultation because I am quite sure they are going to hear a lot from the public. Of course, I hope the public will be able to look beyond the fact that this is another ‘public consultation’ that, on the surface, appears to be designed to reinforce the structure (and the strengths and weaknesses) of The Big Move as we have it now … rather than look beyond it.
I suppose that the next step from the Transit Panel should be a document focusing on ‘the Transit we don’t need.’
Another consideration is the lack of timed transfers on the TTC. Someone using a car to get from work to home, can stop along the way at a bank, do some shopping, pick up the kids, and then pick up the dry cleaning. Not so with the TTC. Unless they have a MetroPass, an extra fare maybe required, unless they use some subterfuge.
Steve: The TTC will probably moved to timed fares with Presto, but it’s going to be an uphill battle with those who prefer fare by distance, something that penalizes those very people in far distant Scarborough far more than we pinko commie downtowners who always make short trips and would get cheaper fares. Also, fare by distance would immensely complicate travel on the TTC because of the need to “tap out” to mark the end of your journey.
Steve thank you for stating that so succinctly. No one – no one – has made this fundamentally important point and I’m glad you did. So much has been said in the debate about the Scarborough RT replacement in terms of the number of stops on the LRT plan vs the subway plan, but the route will connect STC to the Bloor line at Kennedy, full stop. The extra stops which are and will be virtually unused are irrelevant to the debate and would only slow the line down. Mass rapid transit should be a network of connectivities between high density hubs with bus feeder networks feeding the system along the way.
Steve: To be clear, I am not saying that density isn’t needed, only that the absence of density should not preclude a route given other sources of demand. In the case of Scarborough, there is the matter of serving local needs that could exist along the line, plus the availability of what I consider to be an equal and more financially responsible alternative.
Another problem with Scarborough is the convenient increase in projected demand that appears to come from 905-based trips that the model assigns to the new subway line. We should be putting more long-haul trips on GO, not drawing them away onto our already overcrowded subway system.
It is in the balance between local traffic, feeders, network travel benefits and cost that we disagree.
This is an issue with the TTC – and I saw it at the meeting a few years ago that I attended about having a right of way along Lake Shore Blvd. W. in Etobicoke for the 501 Queen car. The TTC’s response at the time, which I assume is the same, is that the TTC would lose too much money.
However, it would be nice to see the TTC integrate their fares more as well. Especially with GO Transit. That would make it more cost efficient to use.
So even after the Big Move is implemented, the transit savings will only be 3-5 minutes shorter than today in 2030ish? It’s time to repave lots of roads so that maintenance on buses won’t be as heavy. Oh and upgrade EVERYTHING on the ttc subways (lights, new tracks every 20 years, new subway cars every 30 years, upgrade signals every 40 years, upgrade tunnels every 20 years as well) and streetcars. Make more ROW for streetcars. And perhaps tell bus drivers not to slam the brakes so hard so that brakes last longer and brake oil isn’t as used heavily. And yes GO buses and trains should not slam their brakes unless emergency.
And tell TTC amd GO to use energy efficient lighting. Gotta save on operating costs.
Oh and how come GO Milton line doesn’t planned to be electrified?
Steve: There are issues with the Milton line regarding frequent service all the way to the terminal because of right-of-way constraints. Also, CPR is probably not too keen about electrification over their trackage.
The Big U… sigh… Why am I not surprised? We brought subway to Vaughan, and we’re planning to bring it to Richmond Hill, so next it will be a nice line from Markham to Mississauga. And after that… We can’t be unfair to Brampton and the Durham region, now can we? In the meantime, people at Yonge and Eglinton can wait for a subway train with enough room to stand, and people in Thorncliffe and Flemingdon can wait for proper transit, period.
There is a need for rapid transit bringing people from the 905 to downtown. But why going with subways when what is needed is a regional passenger train system – something we already have, btw, although it obviously needs improvement both in reach and in frequency of service?
I get it that we cannot only serve the needs of Torontonians, and that a regional transit strategy must serve all. But we are getting to the point where the needs of Torontonians, or more exactly the needs of some Torontonians, are being on a backburner that is moving back and back and back as we speak. Enough already.
Too bad Rob Ford and his executive will not read any of the reports. Even if they did not have the current distractions. They are too stuck in their ways.
Setting the Scarborough LRT/subway debate aside what I was trying to say was I agree with you that transit lines connecting high density hubs which travel through low density neighbourhoods aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Not sure those low density sections need many stops though, the cost/benefit doesn’t compute.
When a station is put in though, particularly on a subway line, density should be encouraged by the City around the station and the responsible transit agency (Metrolinx/TTC) should participate in the economic benefit of the development of the lands around these new stations. And that’s another matter.
Steve: On that I think we agree, although that’s easier said that done when a station is dropped into a low density area because it makes sense as a connection point to surface routes, and the existing residents are none too happy about being “redeveloped”. That’s an important point missed in a lot of the “value capture” discussions about other cities where fallow land is recycled through transit development.
For example, I don’t think the folks at Pape and Danforth would be too interested in seeing their neighbourhood destroyed just so that the TTC could build a wye junction (not to mention a bigger bus loop for the inevitable growth in demand for connecting bus service) and they could now live at a “mobility hub”. If that area is redeveloped, this will come bit by bit, not by demolishing the very thing that makes the intersection what it is.
An interesting point about the “Don Mills” line in the east end is that the area it would pass through is already redeveloping — the Distillery, the Canary district, the future Great Gulf development — all without benefit of a rapid transit line. Gerrard Square would likely be tipped over into development by the presence of a subway station, but it will otherwise stay as a local commercial centre in its current form.
Doesn’t TTC stand for TORONTO Transit Commission? Why, then, does it now have the responsibility for providing transit to Vaughn, Markham, Mississauga, et cetera? And why only to these areas? Can North Bay be so flagrantly ignored?
A line linking Mississauga and Markham, that sounds like improved GO train service on the Milton and Stouffville lines. Obviously this and other GO improvements need to be put to the front of the priority list. Hopefully this panel will realize that harebrained schemes like a subway under Danforth Road and McCowan Road, building two incompatible types of rail on Sheppard Avenue or building light rail to RioCan and SmartCentres on Eglinton East are a low priority and should be killed off in favour of funding high frequency GO service and the Don Mills subway line, while keeping open the possibility of subway on Sheppard if needed in the future.
I know the 32 minutes referred to by Civic Action was for all commuters, regardless of mode. The general public mistakenly believes their auto commute times will be reduced by the Big Move but this is extremely unlikely and car drivers will be disappointed as traffic congestion continues to grow, especially in the 905 suburbs.
The greatest benefits will accrue to current transit users who are facing crowding, delays, and unreliable service. The only auto drivers who will benefit are those who can make a partial or complete modal shift to public transit and reduce the number of vehicles in their household. There are huge financial gains for a family in moving from 2 or 3 vehicles down to 1.
Active transportation commuters and combined active/public transit commuters might see some small benefits but this will be highly dependent on good urban planning by their local municipality.
Demand for GO Transit’s 403 and 407 bus services are expanding faster than GO can keep up. GO fills up every bus they can place on the line and recently bought a new set of Double Deck buses to allow greater operability. I’m also told that GO’s Square One Terminal is already their busiest after Union.
Once the Mississauga Transitway opens in 2014 and phase 2 is complete in 2015/2016, GO buses will have a more or less congestion free route across Mississauga. There is also a plan for a transitway along the 407 and on Highway 427.
So yeah, maybe there is some hope for that regional relief commuter line running from Meadowvale to Meadowvale (and eventually Milton to North Pickering). The challenge is to get CP to agree.
How would an underground wye junction destroyed the neighbourhood Steve? It is underground after all.
I know Pape station has a bus loop, but if the DRL went there either buses could use an on street connection or the parking lot off Lipton Ave. could be changed to allow buses to pass threw there and only make a brief stop to pick up and drop off passengers.
Steve: Curves from a north-south to an east-west line won’t just sit under the roadways as if they were underground streetcar tracks. Their location will be dictated by the position of the BD line north of Danforth, and the fact that they would have to connect to the existing line beyond the limits of the station box. To build them (the TTC wants a full wye), one would have to demolish buildings on the northeast and northwest quadrants of the intersection.
Look at the are directly above Greenwood Wye — all of the buildings are newer (i.e. post subway construction) on Danforth and along the path the two legs of the wye take to reach the main subway tunnel under Strathmore one block to the north. That’s a wye that does not have to straddle a station box as would be needed at Pape.
As for the bus loop, if the subway goes north of Danforth to Thorncliffe Park, then obviously there will not be the huge number of transfer moves bus-to-subway that there are today. But if the subway ends there, the demand will rise on those bus routes putting even more stress on Pape Station.
I wonder if it is still possible to fight to save the Scarborough LRT.
The key is to build as much of a web of light rail as is possible. I think of how the Queens Quay streetcar right of way link between Spadina and Bathurst was opened back in 2000 with no senior level funding and I think they got the track crew to plan the whole thing, skipping on the cost of the EA. It goes to show how easy it can be to implement light rail even when resources are thin.
Steve: The Spadina to Bathurst link was a preliminary phase of the Waterfront West LRT for which there is an approved EA. Similarly the reconfiguration of Fleet Street was part of the same project. It was not planned by the track crew.
Seeing how we live in an age where we want more for less and more bang for the buck, it makes no sense to steamroller through with the Scarborough subway. I wonder if there will have to be more debates and votes on the line and with the mayor in serious trouble right now, it makes me wonder how the decisions could play out at city council.
Already things are marching ahead for Ottawa, Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge, Hamilton and Mississauga and I am finding some talk of people wanting light rail in the Vancouver city region as well. With the number of new automobiles being purchased being on a steady decline since 2002, letting car owners bully the transit plans will become harder to do. I lived in Scarborough briefly up to a few years ago near the Markham/Eglinton area and they will not benefit whatsoever from a SRT to subway conversion line, and there are a low of low income people in Scarborough and beyond that cannot afford a car and would benefit immensely from light rail. It is only more trouble now that municipal elections are every four years instead of every three.
With the supposed claim that I heard on Urban Toronto that Hudak would scrap any light rail plan he could if elected, there has to be a stronger push than ever for light rail and streetcar rights of way and pushing away the automobile. Years of tearing up plans including Network 2011, GO ALRT, Let’s Move, Transit City and the Scarborough LRT is proof that we have to fight hard to start pushing ahead with a sound city building agenda. We are all left with less wealth after the 2008 economic crash, we should not fool ourselves into focusing on costly heavy rail rapid transit expansion we cannot afford while further neglecting transit expansion needs and underserved communities. I hope I am not sounding too heated, but I hope that more people can see the good in streetcars and light rail, in light of all the streetcar bashing I have seen since the 2010 municipal election.
Steve: It is not a “supposed” claim. Hudak is quoted in the regular media at length with his plan to kill off everything but subway lines and GO. This is part of his platform.
When I see so many people visiting the inner city from the suburbs and beyond to have fun, go shopping, visit the Eaton Centre/Yonge Dundas Square and go partying at the downtown night clubs, that tells me that more people want to live the downtown lifestyle. Going to war for oil, ripping up the forests out west for oil, being confronted with the high cost of oil and the failure of the automobile through traffic congestion, we need to stop fooling ourselves. The climate is right for light rail and high speed rail as we venture deeper into the 21st century and Megacity/Megalopolis living.
With the next municipal election campaign running roughly over the next year, people need to be made aware of the affordability and effectiveness of light rail. We need to push back, fight hard, and fight to win! : )
For those interested in getting visuals about what Steve is talking about, if you go the Toronto Archives (just across the CP line from Dupont subway station) and ask to see the Northway Photo Maps, they have iterations from many many years going way back, and black and white aerial photography of the Greenwood Wye under construction can be found among these photos – I’ve seen them myself.
The new stockyards development at Keele and St Clair is being built like this. Stores on the outside parking in the middle. Street car stops at Keele/Weston Rd. Gunns loop. No walking through parking lots to get to the store if you take transit.
That would assume that the basements went down far enough to be an issue. Can’t the wye be built using a boring machine, or some other technology that does not require building digging down from ground level and creating a giant hole in the ground? Although, I concur, the DRL does not have to connect to the Bloor-Danforth line at Pape.
Steve: No, it cannot be built with a boring machine, but I’m not going to belabour the point by explaining why not. The wye is the TTC’s proposal, and a link somewhere to the existing network is essential so that trains can reach the maintenance shops at Greenwood.
If the line goes via Donlands, the connection can be made directly at Greenwood Yard without a complex junction (think of how the Spadina subway sits beside Wilson Yard).
There are more and more examples of development that attempts to put the parking ‘inside’ and brings the building structure out to the street. Of course there are good and bad examples of this. To my mind the worst are the ones with fake doors and windows facing the street that are covered by vinyl displays, followed by the ones with real doors that are permanently locked.
The Markham/Eglinton area will not benefit from either Scarborough Subway or Scarborough LRT. Either of those lines will go north-east and quite far away from the eastern section of Eglinton.
The Markham/Eglinton area needs a different LRT line, the one that follows Eglinton east to Kingston Road, then continues up Kingston Road and Morningside to the UofT Scarborough campus and to Sheppard. This line is listed in the TTC expansion plans, but is not currently funded. If it gets funded, it can co-exist with Scarborough Subway as both will serve different parts of Scarborough.
That is not why the Panel is rethinking where and what should be built. While your general point is correct, it is only relevant if transit can meet the origin/destination relationship. As planned, the Big Move will fail to meet its primary objective. This is largely the result of employment levels (and growth trends) in the city of Toronto proving to be far too optimistic.
Despite the two recommendations the report states must occur for the objective to be realized, it does not take into account that the projections are already 250,000 employment positions behind. The Transit Panel is 100% correct in questioning all aspects of the Big Move before it becomes the Big White Elephant with no other kick at the can.
I would say so. In another comment somebody said something about the Eglinton/Kingston/Morningside LRT line, pointing out it is in the plan but not funded. If city council comes to its senses and reverts to the SRT LRT conversion, then all it would take to fund the above-mentioned LRT line would be to convince the Feds to re-direct their subway contribution, and re-direct some of the City subway contribution. Together with the Sheppard LRT, this would be three LRT lines for Scarborough. Do some PR and education on LRT, tie the profligate subway to Ford’s shenanigans and dishonesty (connecting his personal dishonesty about his scandals to his dishonesty claiming to be for fiscal prudence while pushing a fiscally irresponsible subway idea), and I think the anti-LRT contingent can be correctly painted as not acting in the best interests of Scarborough or the City.
Side note: I refuse to call the anti-LRT group “pro-Subway”. Steve is pro-subway. I am pro-subway. That group is pro-whatever-will-get-them-elected-and/or-hurt-public-transit.
I understand this with respect to GTA transit. For Waterloo, I thought the PCs just recently made a big point of saying that they would not cancel our LRT, even going so far as to accuse the Liberals of dishonesty for saying the PCs would cancel it. Regardless, the PCs are clearly not an appropriate choice for anybody who cares about good transit.
Link to KW Record
All I can say to this is that Hudak is talking out of both sides of his mouth. How can he possibly support an LRT in KW if he doesn’t support those in the GTHA?
It’s a pretty good list of items.
Who knows what they’ll make of all the talk about connectivity and networks and connecting nodes. Yet, let’s hope they do it.
I especially like the part about employment zones needing transit. There has been far too much focus on residential intensification and not enough on employment intensification. People may not like the idea of the suburbs, but it’s a lot easier to manage traffic wise if the dominant mode of getting to work outside your suburb is driving to a ‘transit hub’ and then taking transit to work. This works really well with the downtown core. I grew up in the burbs, and almost no one drove downtown that I knew. Everyone took the Go. Just tossing it out there, but malls seem like a really good location for this kind of things assuming the public/private interests can work out. Mall parking lots are not very busy during work day hours. Square One, Bramalea City Center, Richmond hill, Vaughan… all have these zones and the accompanying transit hubs. But yes, it is hard to manage when you take into account costs, property taxes, moving companies around….
I often wonder at times if it would make financial sense to pay some of the larger employers to relocate to a more transit friendly location. Or help cover their moving costs.
The other positive note is the talk about the layout of suburban offices/mass centers. Without too many big changes, many of these can be made much more transit friendly. I’m not sure of the timescale, so take this with a grain of salt, but just from my own adventures, I think those office parks built prior to the mid 2000s are about the worst configurations. I used to work out in Markham and even though the office park was located near Highway 7, it would be impossible to take transit. Each company’s buildings were located so far from each other with huge sprawling parking lots in between. I’m pretty sure, that could have been reconfigured to be much more transit friendly with minimal planning and the exact same density. As mentioned, moving the buildings closer to the roads / parking lots to the rear. As I work in Mississauga even though I stay in Toronto, I am already seeing some of these at work along the Mississauga BRT route (TD, Bell, Sobeys, Blackberry…) are all nicely configured for rapid transit access. Don’t get me wrong, boat loads of other buildings are not, but it’s interesting to see it develop nonetheless. There’s so much the suburbs can do and have done to get people moving that does not involve the density that some people don’t like.
One night 25 years ago while working at a Subway (sandwiches) shop on Yonge St., an elderly lady approached the cash register and asked to buy some tokens. I had to explain that the Subway (train) didn’t run that far north. She was irate, particularly about our misleading signage.
The store was in Aurora.
Arithmetically this is correct, but in practice will not happen. If the city council reverts from Scarborough Subway back to Scarborough LRT, they will immediately cancel the property tax hike and there will be no City contribution left on the table.
The federal government, to my knowledge, never contributes more than 1/3 to urban transit projects. Assuming that the Eglinton/Kingston/Morningside LRT line costs about 1 billion, someone will have to come up with $667 million from other sources in order to become eligible and get the remaining $333 million from the federal government.
To be fair, Hudak never talked about canceling the KW LRT.
However, he did muse about canceling or not building LRT in Hamilton, as well as Hurontario LRT in Mississauga. Not building those lines will be pretty shortsighted as well.
The most interesting part is that Hudak remains silent about the future of the 6+ billion Eglinton LRT, should the Tories come to power. Either they decided to grandfather Eglinton LRT and finish its construction as planned; or they may be thinking about canceling the surface section between Don Mills and Kennedy, but prefer not to announce that before the elections.
Why would they have to do that? To be sure, there are multiple ways for Council to come to its senses. One would be simply to revert to the plan that was in progress until recently. Another way would be to devote the same funding from the same sources to the same end—Scarborough transit—but in a sensible fashion. They could easily pass a motion changing the plan and keeping the funding arrangements. This might result in more transit for Scarborough than would be otherwise constructed at this time, but sometimes that’s just the way things happen in politics. The only factor not in Council’s control is whether the Feds could be convinced to go along with the re-purposing of the funding. But I suspect if City politics changed to make an LRT acceptable then the Feds would feel a need to honour their funding commitment even if for a different project than originally made.
Steve: Much would depend on the dynamics of the parties in power at each level of government. I don’t see Stephen Harper being too friendly to an Olivia Chow led Council.
@Isaac Morland: Although the city council is not required to cancel the property tax hike if they backtrack on Scarborough Subway, they will certainly do just that. My conclusion is based on the course of the “transit revenues” debate that took place earlier this year.
Steve, will you be attending the Transit Panel public meeting at Mattamy Athletic Centre tomorrow (Wednesday) evening?
Steve: No. I will be listening to Brahms at the TSO.
To Transit projects. However they do sometimes 100% fund road infrastructure projects. The new Champlain bridge in Montreal is to be 100% federal funded — a cost estimated at $5 billion.
Sure, one could argue that they own the old bridge already, so they have to replace it. However they own it, because they 100% funded the previous one as well.
If Montreal gets $5 billion for a bridge — let alone whatever federal contributions on other projects — I wonder why Toronto doesn’t seem to have an equivalent amount of spending on infrastructure.
Does the transit panel fail to realize that congestion also occurs in Kitchener-Waterloo and Ottawa? Both those cities need rapid transit too. the GTHA is not the only area with gridlock problems.
Steve: The transit panel was specifically charged with the question of funding for the GTHA, the area covered by Metrolinx planning. Ottawa and KW were not part of their remit. However, they did make the point that new revenues raised province-wide could be used to fund transportation projects locally. If, for example, there were a higher gas tax, then the extra revenue would go to the regions in which it was raised and this would provide local funding all over Ontario, not just in the GTHA.
This part of their recommendation has been almost systematically distorted outside of Toronto by people who claim that GTHA projects would be funded from Northern Ontario, for example. This is not true, but it suits folks of some political stripes to paint that picture.